I was a very shy child. My shyness factor can be gauged from the fact that whenever a guest used to come to our home, I used to hide in the remotest corner beneath the bed. Unfortunately in today’ era beds are designed as 2 in 1 types (sofa cum bed) or with built in luggage spaces, thus making it a redundant option to hide from unwanted guest or restrict me option to find that reclusive space just for myself. Yes, we all need those spaces just for ourselves and it is more apparent in today’s era as lack of it results in stress. This is a controversial statement and we can fight it out later.
Today, keeping this statement to be a wee bit relevant, let’s look at the various hiding spaces we all look out for. It actually depends on our stress levels. I remember that once I was hiding yet again and as soon as I reached the corner, a beautiful tiny black coloured lizard was staring at me and in fact telling me that ‘hey, this is my place.’ That was the first time I abandoned my lovely corner. The process took not more than 5 seconds. My happy mamma proudly displayed me in front of her guests that day and an embarrassed me was left wondering if facing the lizard was a better option. Over the years I figured our various hiding spaces and observed others finding their own hiding spaces and some even cohabiting with the lizard over a period of time just to keep that ‘stress’ away.
One of the most common is Religion. If there was a gauge or an instrument to check the saturation levels of religion just like we have for checking carbon dioxide levels then we have reached an era where literally people are clinging to the corner and the lizard is just getting bigger. Soon, the lizard will become a crocodile and gobble them up but ‘jaan jaye yeh corner naa jaye’. This reminds me of an incident that happened at my place during a religious function. My little daughter innocently picked up a banana that was kept in front of the havan and started eating the same. The stare she got from the Pundit was evident that God was angry and would now starve as she had stolen from his plate. The believers (all except me) could not do much and hesitatingly remarked that it was okay. But, in their minds fear had already germinated, what if the God would really go hungry. I was laughing away to glory (in my mind) as I could not offend the believers or the God and in the same fashion which I do when my other friends observe fasting and rituals in the name of God but do not desist from wasting money on flowers, chaddars, candles, et al in the same of the same God. The movie ‘OMG’ covers all other related aspects.
I see some of my friends grinning out there and kind of telling me that we are not believers. We just follow the norms of the society. Yeah, the society tells them to smoke, drink, and make merry in exotic locales with exotic people related to the oldest profession in the world. Or maybe the religion told them that. Well, the lizard is our future generation which is closely observing these hypocrites who are religious and not necessarily human and soon these baby crocodiles are going to start gnawing at your ass.
Over the past decade thanks to the IT and ITes impetus in our working culture, for a large number of professionals, that corner signifies working at office – Endless days and nights and weekends and then plan a convention on a free weekend or even a R & R kind of event an any pending weekend just to be there in that corner. If IT sector was a trigger, certain banks acted as a catalyst in promoting this belief amongst office goers that it is needed to work for long hours. It is sacrosanct to stay put in office till the HOD does not leave. Over a period, some of them sincerely believe that it is only work that will make their true identity in the world and nothing else. The lizard is family time, health related issues, allergic to evening sun (as they normally leave office in the night) and as the lizard grows into a crocodile, so do their issues like suicide, divorce and most importantly losing self identity. I know a particular HOD who comes in the office every morning at 12 (sorry make that noon) and leaves by 12 in the night. No wonder, his team has completely changed as they could not take the stench of the mid-sized crocodile any more.
In a training program which I had attended, they said that these measures or tactics or even habit of being overly religious, smoking, drinking, being cynical towards everybody, work obsession and so on are indicators that we are actually running away from our core self. We put up an image and stay true to that image and before long that image rules over the true self. We line up various excuses to defend that image and at the same time we ignore that lizard which slowly transforms into a crocodile. That corner under the bed is relaxing, comforting and makes us feel safe and strong and for some that corner and the image become so strong and overpowering that even the crocodile seems like our pet dog.
Armed with this knowledge and experience, I decided that I shall never cling to any corner under the bed and even if I did then run away at the first sighting of the lizard. And you know what! I kept on clinging to the corners and the crocodiles and it was only when the stench was unbearable, then I managed to get out of the bed. And it was no mean task. And then I remember my mother’s golden words, which I believe she has come to know after her tryst with life’s experiences so far – ‘Do what you feel is right. Hell with everybody else.’ But will that get rid of my stress? Will that prevent me from entering another corner? I have many images and all have a safe corner and the moment I expose my true self by doing what I feel like doing, then the years spent in creating those images will fritter away. I shall be vulnerable.
But, still I believe in her words. At the same time, I think they are idealistic. Forget, doing what you think is right. It is even tough to just voice out your liking these days as the hiding space under the bed prevents us from doing so. We can do a quick test to check if that lizard is still there with you under the bed or has it turned into a pet dog. Can you write in 10 words or less what you wish to do with your life right now? I’ll make it simpler for you by writing for myself. ‘I wish to finish my book AY. by 08th August’. Can you write your wish or what you want to do for yourself (not your image) by replying in comment and try and crawl out of that corner? Awaiting your comment.